Yes. You read it correctly! Today, I’ll be writing about my observations and experience during my 5 days stay in Iceland. In my first ever post on the blog, I mentioned the next country on my hit list is Iceland, and I stuck to my guns and made it happen. So, what’s the deal with this abandoned Arctic island in north of Europe ?!
Before I start writing about Iceland, let’s get one thing off straight away. If you plan on visiting Iceland for the very first time, fly with IcelandAir. It oozes brilliance. The plane is extremely clean and well taken care of. On back of the seats, there are some quick Icelandic lessons for you, and the entertainment package is very different to every other airline I’ve ever flown. Their prices were pretty reasonable and the flight attendants were outstanding. Having said all that, get yourself something to eat prior to boarding, because you won’t want to be paying €6 for a small pack of Pringles. It’s the story with Iceland. Everything is ridiculously expensive. I guess it shouldn’t raise too much surprise as fish and whale aside, I imagine Iceland has to import basically every other material from abroad.
Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, only has a domestic airport which flies to other Icelandic cities and to Greenland in summer time. As a result, every single international flight lands in Keflavik, which is approximately 45 minutes away from the the capital. Upon arriving at the airport, you’ll see plenty of ads of Blue Lagoon- one of Iceland’s most popular tourist sights- which just gets you going. Tourism is becoming massive for the Icelandic economy and they are doing greatly to maximize the potential of their unique and one of a kind country. You’re likely to encounter plenty of billboards and posters displaying the picture below, which is the advertising face for both IcelandAir and Blue Lagoon.
During the 45 minutes bus ride from Keflavik to Reykjavik, you can totally capture what Iceland is like. All you see is Ocean, and small mountains. Plenty of hidden volcanoes, and all of a sudden all we are missing from our stereotypical pre-shaped image of Iceland are sheeps and horses. It’s not a dense nation at all. 330,000, more than a third of which live in the capital. The air is silky smooth though. Once your lungs breath the fresh and clean air of Iceland, it’s as a car has just been taken to car wash. It’s wonderful. The roads are very tiny and up and down, so you’ll get your free dose of work out by just walking around the city. Who doesn’t love a city where you don’t need a car to get your grocery shopping done ?!
Speaking of shopping, let’s talk about the money side of things in Iceland. Iceland is a capitalist country unlike the other Nordic nations, so they took a big hit during the recession of 2008. They are recovering. ISK (Icelandic Kroner) currency is relatively weak, and hence plenty of Icelanders can’t wait until they join the EU and adopt Euro, so they will have more purchasing power while travelling abroad. Is it likely to happen? Yes. Is it likely to happen any time soon? No. If I had to hazard a guess on a time when Iceland joints the EU, I’d go with year 2025. With prices not being too friendly to a working person in Iceland, you could just imagine how expensive it must look to the tourists who will be spending their money there. Here is some of the notable prices converted to Canadian Dollars (CAD)
Pint of Beer = $10 , 220 ML Water Bottle = $3 , Hot Chocolate = $6, 9” Pizza = $16 , A classy meal at a classy restaurant = $40/50
I came across some very interesting statistics about the Icelandic society over the past year. There has been only one case of homicide in the entire country in 2014. Only 3 people have been killed as a result of car accidents (Surprisingly the dismantled vehicles are being publicly displayed on the road as a reminder to the drivers), Under no road in the country a car is allowed to drive faster than 90km/ hour, there are only around 150 people in prisons all across Iceland, and there are no McDonald’s in the entire country which goes some way to explain why the Icelanders are generally thin. Icelandic people speak English very well and have quiet a unique accent. They have a very deep accent as if they are speaking with the very bottom of their lungs. One could say, it’s as a chain smoker is speaking English. It’s easy to distinguish it from other Scandinavian accents. They are a friendly bunch. Having said that, they like the nightlife better after 2AM when the crowd gets more local and the tourists usually give up. It’s hard to catch up to Icelanders when drinking. They are incredibly fast. They don’t even really go out before 1AM. They are the ultimate after-party type of crowd. Icelandic men like their facial hair the same way Icelandic women like the fur clothing. Everything just seems assuring and safe. No wonder the average life expectancy in Iceland is among the very highest in the world !
What was it about Iceland to always had me thinking of going there though ?! I can think of Bobby Fischer stories, That BlueLagoon ad, the fact that Iceland is just in middle of the ocean with no neighbours, the fact that when you look at the world map, Iceland is a stand out. Whatever it was, or if it was the combination of the above, it was worth it. Upon hiking my way up the mountain near Selfoss in search of a natural hot spring spot, a thought appeared to me. I think I have found the ultimate plan B place in life. You know some people at some point in their life, just wake up one morning and ponder back and think things have gone wrong ?! They want a fresh start at a fresh place. Every body has their idea of a plan B spot. I think I’ve found mine. Ocean, nature, mountains (I love mountains more than Romeo loved Juliet), and great people around. What’s not to love !